Walking to the neighborhood grocery in the rain, it occurred to me that I should paint a dot of nail polish on my black umbrella handle so I would never take the wrong one from the waste basket most stores set near their doors.
I parked it and collected my lemons and whipping cream for the mousse I wanted to make, paid and stopped to reclaim my umbrella from the basket.
It was gone.
I couldn't believe it. Somebody stole my umbrella. That is about as lowdown and dirty as it gets. Who would do such a thing?
There was a woman scurrying away with a small black umbrella which looked familiar, but how could I prove it was mine? All black umbrellas look alike.
I peered into the basket again. There were two others, a red one and a dark blue with ruffles. Mine had definitely gone to a new home.
It's the Chinese Year of the Rat. Maybe that explains it.
I got drenched to the skin as I slogged home, where I gave a tour de force performance of every expletive I know for Flip, who was hiding out in his earphones.
I felt angry. Violated. I was shocked that someone would do that.
Umbrellas are not costly. If she had asked me, I might have given it to her. But in stealing it during a rainstorm, she was clearly stating that she was more important than I, that she was more entitled to be dry even though I had the foresight to take my umbrella with me and she didn't.
It was the presumption of superiority that got me so fired up.
When we convince ourselves that we are better than someone else, made of finer cloth, more favored by God, we are setting ourselves back on our journey toward perfection because it is not about being The Best. It is about accepting that we are no more and no less important than all other beings.
We seem to live increasingly in a "Me-First" world in which people are out for themselves and believe that no one else matters. Gentleness is perceived as weakness and charity begins and ends at home.
We are here to support each other with kindness and even love, if possible, because we really are all in the soup together. But every time we feel more deserving than someone else, we are heading down a slippery slope and may soon find ourselves stealing umbrellas.
You thought I wouldn't notice?
You are dead to me.
Lotus blossom up your ass
I feel better now.